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Armenia: Open Border With Turkey Welcomed

Yerevan, 20 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - Armenia's First Deputy Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian today tells RFE/RL that Yerevan welcomes any move from Turkey to open a border crossing with Armenia that is not conditioned by demands linked to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

Oskanian commented on an article in today's English-language "Turkish Daily News." The article quoted Semsettin Uzun, Governor of Turkey's Igdir province, which borders on Armenia, as saying roads leading to the Alican frontier post have been paved in preparation for the opening of a border crossing between the two countries.

Uzun told the newspaper that he had talks last week in Yerevan with Armenian officials, and that "in one month, Igdir will be completely ready" for the anticipated expansion in bi-lateral trade that will follow the opening of a border crossing. Uzun said indirect trade with Armenia (via Georgia and Iran) is now estimated at $100 million annually, and the figure will rise to $500 million, once the border is open.

Turkey has repeatedly made opening a frontier crossing contingent on the withdrawal of ethnic Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani territory.